Chuck Fletcher took the helm of the Philadelphia Flyers on December 3, 2018, and has been crafting his vision for the club ever since. The bulk of the changes he’s made has come via trade, and there’s been a lot of them, 17 in total. Some were undoing his predecessors’ mistakes, others were putting his mark on the team, but so far “Chucky Two-Trades” has lived up to his moniker. As the trade deadline approaches, why not look back at every trade he’s made since his arrival in Philly?
1/11/19- Jacob Graves and 2019 sixth round pick (Roddy Ross) for Jordan Weal
The first deal Fletcher made at the helm of the Flyers was dealing away a Hextall-era cornerstone forward Jordan Weal. He was on an expiring contract that paid him $1.75 million a season, so it cleared a couple bucks from the Flyers’ books. Jacob Graves played a grand total of 28 games with the Reading Royals and that sixth round pick was used to draft goalie Roddy Ross, who is most memorable for wearing number 69 during development camps. Ross was not signed by the Flyers organization and is a free agent.
1/17/19- Justin Bailey for Taylor Leier
This trade led to one of the best memes in recent Flyers history. Justin Bailey was acquired for longtime AHL forward Taylor Leier. Bailey then spent the rest of the 2018-19 season being shuttled between the Flyers and Phantoms a whopping ten times. He was ultimately not offered a contract at the end of the season and signed with the Canucks organization where he remains to this day.
2/11/19- David Schlemko and Byron Froese for Dale Weise and Christian Folin
Another one of Fletcher’s early deals came as a way to clear some cap and undue some of Hextall’s nonsense. Dale Weise still had one year left on his deal at a $2.3 million cap. Folin only signed a one-year deal with the club at a measly $800,000. Schlemko was bought out of the last year of his $2.1 million cap hit, costing the Flyers $600,000 from 2019 to 2021, and Froese played 24 games in Lehigh before leaving as a free agent in 2019. All in all, it was a way to save a slight bit of cap space instead of dealing with Dale Weise’s contract.
2/16/19- Cam Talbot for Anthony Stolarz
This ended being absolutely baffling, not because of the trade itself, but because of the fallout of the deal. Stolarz had been in the Flyers’ system since he was drafted 2012 and came close to challenging for a NHL spot on multiple occasions, but never secured a role. Cam Talbot, who was best friends with rookie phenom Cater Hart, was brought in to supposedly form the tandem of the future. Talbot was used very infrequently over the rest of the season, only suiting up for four games and left in free agency in 2019 and Brian Elliott stuck around for another season as the backup to Hart.
2/25/19- Ryan Hartman and 2020 fourth round pick (Thimo Nickl) for Wayne Simmonds
This trade was sad, but it’s not Chuck Fletcher’s fault the return was so underwhelming. At his peak Wayne Simmonds was one of the best power forwards in the league, but that’s a demanding style of hockey to play and it took it’s toll on his body. He went from a 30-goal scorer to a 16-goal scorer in the course of just two years, meaning when his contract was coming to an end during the summer of 2019, the Flyers sold low on the once-great forward. They walked away with Ryan Hartman, who was a former first round pick, but never made much of an impact in the NHL, and a fourth round pick they’d later trade away.
6/3/19- Rights to Kevin Hayes for 2019 fifth round pick (Harrison Blaisdell)
The first real addition Fletcher made was securing the rights to Kevin Hayes from the Winnipeg Jets, a team that acquired him in a deadline deal with the Rangers. He signed a seven-year, $50 million contract and had a breakout year in 2019-20, but injuries have limited his usefulness over the last two seasons, making a once stomachable contract look like an albatross.
6/14/19- Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas
In what ended up being a great deal for the Flyers, they dealt away Radko Gudas, who had developed into a decent depth defenseman for the Flyers, in exchange for veteran Matt Niskanen. It was the first exterior legitimate addition the Flyers had made to the blueline in years and he formed a great pair with Ivan Provorov. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, he retired a year before his contract ended and left the Flyers shorthanded on the backend since, but the deal was an overall success for what it was.
6/18/19- Justin Braun for 2019 second round pick (Kaeden Korczak) and 2020 third round pick (Maxim Groshev)
This was the first post-Hextall deal that featured a trade based around losing draft picks, and the fanbase took it about as well as you’d expect. But Justin Braun has been a great addition to the team as a veteran defenseman who has helped buoy the younger players on the team such as Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov. He’s been the unsung hero of the team over the last two seasons and the deal was probably Fletcher’s best pickup to date.
6/24/19- Tyler Pitlick for Ryan Hartman
Ryan Hartman, who was the main return in the Wayne Simmonds’ trade four months prior, was dealt away for Dallas Stars’ forward Tyler Pitlick. He was almost one million dollars cheaper than Hartman and became a very useful depth forward for the Flyers. He ultimately wasn’t re-signed at the end of the 2019-20 season as the team needed an open spot for the returning Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick, a decision they probably regret making.
2/19/20- futures for J.F. Berube
When the Flyers signed J.F. Berube in the summer of 2019, it came as it bit of a surprise. Rookies Felix Sandstrom and Kirill Ustimenko were making their jump to North America and Alex Lyon was already in the AHL. Both rookies were sent to the ECHL and Berube formed a tandem with Lyon at the AHL level for most of the season. By the time the trade deadline came around, Ustimenko was ready to make the jump to the AHL, thus J.F. Berube was dealt for nothing to the Rangers organization to make room for the new guy.
2/24/20- Nathan Noel for T.J. Brennan
T.J. Brennan was a beloved member of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms whose play had taken a significant dip during the 2019-20 season. His contract was up at the end of the season anyway, so the fact they dealt him to the Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline was a bit strange. They acquired forward Nathan Noel, who only suited up for a single game with the Reading Royals. It was a nothing trade, but still a baffling one.
2/24/20- Derek Grant for 2020 fourth round pick (Thimo Nickl) and Kyle Criscuolo
One of two depth forward additions Chuck Fletcher made at the 2020 trade deadline was acquiring Derek Grant, who was in the middle of a 14-goal, 20-point breakout season with the Ducks, for a fourth round pick and AHL forward Kyle Criscuolo. Grant was horribly underwhelming during the 2020 playoffs and was not re-signed during the offseason. Nickl has not played an NHL game and Criscuolo has suited up for a pair of contests as a member of the Red Wings in December of 2021. No harm no foul.
2/24/20- Nate Thompson for 2021 fifth round pick (Danii Sobolev)
The second depth addition made at the trade deadline featured Canadien’s depth forward Nate Thompson for a fifth round pick. Thompson is best remembered for his copious minutes during the 2020 playoff bubble as an overbalance to Grant playing poorly. He was not re-signed for the 2020-21 campaign, but did return to the Flyers organization for the 2021-22 season.
7/17/21- Ryan Ellis for Phil Myers and Nolan Patrick
At the time of the deal, It seemed odd that the Predators would give up one of their top defensemen for almost nothing. Nolan Patrick spent the bulk of the 2021 season in the bottom six and Phil Myers was in way over his head at the NHL level. While neither have had much success away from the Flyers, Ryan Ellis hasn’t been much to write home about either. He has only suited up for four games thanks to an undisclosed injury. Considering he still has five years left on his current contract that carries a $6.25 million cap hit, and a well-documented injury history, maybe it was a smart move by the Predators dealing him away so they’re not responsible for the money as things go awry.
7/22/21- salary dump for Shayne Gostisbehere, 2022 second round pick and 2022 seventh round pick
It’s a trade that has been criticized to no end, but considering the Flyers tried to give Ghost away twice in the months previous to the deal, it’s no surprise they had to pay someone to take his contract off the books. The Flyers put Gostisbehere on waivers in late March of 2021 and, after going unclaimed, was ultimately left unprotected during the Seattle expansion draft, so when it came time to trade him, the leverage wasn’t exactly in their favor. It certainly isn’t great they had to package a second round pick with Ghost to get his cap hit off the books, but it was also pretty clear that his days in Philly were over as the team wanted to go a different route and needed all the cap space possible to make it happen.
7/23/21- Rasmus Ristolainen for Robert Hagg, 2021 first round pick (Isak Rosen) and 2023 second round pick
That freed cap space from the Ghost trade was put to use when the Flyers acquired Rasmus Ristolainen from the Sabres. Buffalo charged a steep price for the 27-year-old, but there was an intense bidding war, as many teams wanted the service of a physical right-handed defenseman. Ristolainen has had a decent season with the Flyers all things considered, but the real determination of the outcome of this trade will be whether or not he re-signs with the club or not. Stay tuned.
7/24/21- Cam Atkinson for Jake Voracek
This was the definition of a “hockey trade” for the Flyers that has worked out perfectly. Atkinson has been a breath of fresh air for the Flyers as a player who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and is a genuinely good dude off the ice. His cap his is also less than Voracek’s. It was time to move on from Voracek and the Fletcher found a more than suitable replacement.
3/19/22- Owen Tippett, 2024 first round pick and 2023 first round pick for Claude Giroux, Connor Bunnaman, German Rubtsov and a 2024 fifth round pick
The trade deadline move that was deemed not good enough by the fanbase isn’t really all that bad when it’s spelled out. A first round pick, a former 10th overall prospect, and a third rounder for a 34-year-old rental and a pair of AHL nobodies. Going into the deadline, the expected return from the fans was Alex Newhook or Anton Lundell, two players that Fletcher never really had a shot fo acquiring. At the end of the day, Giroux had the no movement clause and wanted to go to Florida, so Fletcher’s hands were tied. He got the best return he could given the circumstances he faced.
3/21/22- 2023 third round pick for Justin Braun
Justin Braun was a hell of a soldier during his time in Philly, often playing huge minutes that didn’t really fit his style of play, but never really looked out of place doing so. The Flyers recoup one of the two draft picks they originally gave up for him in 2019.
3/21/22- 2023 fourth round pick for Derick Brassard
Brassard was a free agent acquisition in the summer of 2021 and spent half the season on IR. He was fairly useful when he was healthy, and with 936 games under his belt, was an attractive depth forward option.
3/23/22- Brennan Menell for futures
This was certainly a trade alright. The Flyers acquired depth defenseman Brennan Menell, who played the last month of the season with the Phantoms, for future considerations.
7/8/22- Rights to Tony DeAngelo and a 2022 seventh round pick (Alexis Gendron) for 2022 fourth round pick (Simon Forsmark), 2023 third round pick and a 2024 second round pick.
The Flyers gave up three draft picks for the signing rights of offensive defenseman Tony DeAngleo. Fletcher paid a premium price for a powerplay specialist, which was definitely on their to-do list, but it was a move that single handedly shut down the rest of their offseason. Time will tell of DeAngelo will be worth the investment, but it’s a steep price that certainly doesn’t look good at face value.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com